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Stop Trying to be Happy

Album Review: Mutha-Falcon Debut LP

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Witnessing female-fronted punk-quintet, Mutha-Falcon perform live is like watching a 4th of July firework-show 6-inches from your face. Except I doubt you’d hear “I’m proud to be an American” playing in the background.

At their recent Deep Ellum Art Festival performance, I watched MC, Diya Craft, utterly own the stage, wildly leaping across it as if she hoped to get the attention from a passing 747. Her vocals were loud, not due to a lazy sound-guy, but from the sheer force of will at which she delivered her fast-paced, all-caps verses and choruses.

I wondered, “does this girl even need a microphone?”, to which Craft promptly lunged off the stage and into the crowd, microphone-less and still singing as onlookers whipped out their phones to capture a piece of the delicious social media fodder.   

And that’s one of the promising things about this band: they create moments.  They give you a reason (not that you need one) to update your insta-story.   

But you may wonder, “is punk still alive?” to which I say “dude, yes—you absolutely need to check out Mutha-Falcon’s debut LP, The Book of Falcon Vol 1, it’s sick.” To which you may say “Who uses the word, ‘sick’, aren’t you like 30-years-old?” And of course, I’d sigh and say I am, but I’ll be pushing daises before I ever stop attending punk shows—or using the word “sick” for that matter. Dick.

But this band isn’t straight punk. It’s more daring than that. At the very least, it’s idiosyncratic in that it’s fronted by an African-American female in a genre that’s notoriously laden with mohawked white dudes (think The Casualties). But this band’s genre roughly sounds like ska-punk meets The Transplants meets a Vaudeville piano balled (sorry, I tried).

The album bursts open with the hyper and pissed-off “Waste of Time,” where Craft vents about an ex for, well—wasting her time. “Stay the f— out my DM’s, don't text and don't call,” she warns her boomerang lover. “Have a nice life, I’m done wasting my time,” The song happily skips along complete with crowd vocals and a dazzling keyboard solo from Matt McNabb (in a punk song no less) and doesn’t wane until the very last note.

The following track, “The 7th Level”, is a prime example of how this band constantly reminds me of The Transplants (a band Diya told me she’d never heard of). Listen to “Not Today” on the Transplants’ album Haunted Cites, written almost 15 years ago, then immediately play the “7th Level” by Mutha-Falcon and tell me you don’t hear a distant cousin. It makes my highschool-emo-kid-heart happy.

The record punches forth with similar ferocity with “Great, Depression” a personal pep talk from Craft complimented with a raunchy solo from guitarist, Landon Markle. The song’s self-therapy is evident with repeated lyrics “it’s gonna’ be great, it’s gonna’ be fine” as it fully reveals the singer’s personal dances with depression. Bassist, Phil Thorton, steps into the spotlight for the first time on the intro “State of the Union” and “Old School vs. New School” follows it up with pungent sentiments about surviving as a millennial, featuring Craft’s most thoughtful lyrics. Here, she takes easy jabs at the political Right touting “From the capitalists, bigots, and Fox News spigots, that make life such a drag.” then advises to “Make the best of a s— situation,” lamenting it’s “all we can do.”

The crowd-pleasing “Locked on Terminal 2” houses the album’s first “drop” (dropping from double-time to half time) making one’s head nod in agreement to Craft’s lyrics as well as along with the beat.

The LP’s second-to-final song, “What are We? Pt.3”, includes Craft’s true singing voice, hanging on sustained notes, contrasting with her normal rhythmic short-burst vocal scheme. The track is fun but sort of an oddball with 80s-rock guitar riffs cruising over store-brand drums at jarring cadences that keep the listener on their toes. The final act “Denton Beach City” is a homage to their hometown that will delight Dentonites for years. Its jam-band style is almost a nod toward the ever-prevalent blues rock acts that dominate the Denton night life circuit any day of the week.

Diya Craft and gang started out just a short while ago. But since their first show, they’ve been injecting themselves into the Denton music conversation with mutha-falcon aplomb. Their shows are rock-solid as is their first album and both will have their new fans already eager for volume 2.

Jared Herzog